Srinagar, Dec 11: Forget famed apples and saffron, Kashmir is all set to export exotic vegetables including broccoli and parsley to different countries across the globe.
Shifting gears from traditional crop patterns, Jammu Kashmir government has embarked on a mission to popularize cultivation of exotic vegetables that have a huge demand in the international market.
Department of Agriculture has started consulting framers to convince them for growing non-traditional crops in coming season. The varieties zeroed in on including broccoli, lettuce, snow peas, parsley and sweet corn.
Director, Department of Agriculture, Altaf Aijaz Andrabi told The Kashmir Monitor that they have already imported seeds of these vegetable varieties from Holland and Spain.
“The idea behind this programme is to ensure massive expansion of vegetable varieties in Kashmir. We expect to grow exotic crops on at least 500 hectares of land in coming season. Vegetables like broccoli, lettuce will introduce our farmers to international market. Besides, it will multiply their earnings,” he said.
Currently only 100 of 48,000 hectares of land is under vegetable cultivation in Kashmir. Each hectare of land produces 325 quintals of vegetables.
“These exotic vegetables are seen as essential component in rich man’s diet, which fortunately is getting popular in India. A farmer who sells cauliflower at Rs 20 per kilogram can earn Rs 100-150 for a kilogram of broccoli,” he said.
To check the viability of the programme, the department has consulted scientists for their feedback. “Kashmir has a seasonal advantage. We have a climate which is better than Europe. Why can’t our farmers be at par with them in their earnings? Our climate is best suited for the cultivation of broccoli, lettuce and parsley,” Andrabi said.
Framers are treading carefully seeking better marketing facility and other promotional programmes to popularize exotic crop cultivation in the valley.
“It is not only about growing a vegetable. There has to be buyer, who will import these vegetables. Care has also to be taken about shipping of these vegetables during winter when highway closes for days together,” said Ghulam Mohammad a grower from Pattan.